Belarus’ Olympic body faces IOC punishment amid protests

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The IOC said Wednesday it is weighing formal punishments for Olympic officials in Belarus after widespread reports of reprisals against athletes amid protests against the country’s disputed presidential election.

The authoritarian leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, claimed a sixth presidential term after an August election seen by many as rigged in his favor.

Lukashenko has also been president of the Belarus Olympic Committee for 23 years.

After an executive board meeting Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee said it was acting amid “the growing number of worrying reports concerning athletes, officials and sports in Belarus.”

Each Sunday for the past 16 weeks, street protests have called for Lukashenko to resign. Thousands have been detained in an often violent police crackdown.

The IOC said it would consider unspecified “appropriate measures or sanctions” against the Belarusian Olympic body for possible breaches of the Olympic charter, without naming Lukashenko.

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